Telematics Munich 2014: Day One

Telematics Munich 2014: Day One

Though Monday's keynote speaker, Dominique Bonte, vice president and practice at ABI Research, said developments in the connected-car ecosystem are moving at a rapid pace, the approximately 1,100 participants at the Telematics Munich 2014 conference also heard that many challenges remain to be met before the connected car can achieve its full potential.

Attendees of the conference, which runs from November 10 to 11, were also told that in the real world, the connected car is still very much a work in progress. For example, according to Martin Rosell, managing director, Wireless Car, of an estimated 1 billion cars on the road worldwide, only about 20 to 25 million, or 2 to 2.5%, are connected vehicles that were connected by OEMs.

In addition, according to Floris van de Klashorst at HERE, an astonishing 95% of all the devices that will eventually be connected are not connected today. This suggests that, on the one hand, the ecosystem is still near the beginning of a rather long learning curve and, on the other hand, the potential for the connected car is enormous.

Regulating the Connected Car

But considerable challenges remain. Eduardo Gianotti, a mechanical engineer at the United Nations Economic Commission for Europe (UNECE), described how a UNECE working group, WP.29, was in the process of formulating regulations for the future deployment of the autonomous car.

For example, he said that WP.29 was “addressing liability concerns about who is responsible in case of an accident.” This may be a bigger obstacle to overcome than technological issues, for it opens a virtual Pandora's Box of legal issues, especially in partially autonomous cars, such as: who was in control of the vehicle when the accident occurred, the driver or the autonomous systems? What function in the car failed? Is the OEM responsible or the TSP who provided the service? And to what degree was the accident caused by the fact that the other car was not autonomous?

This last issue raises another challenge the working group is trying to tackle, which Gianotti described as the “mixed conditions when there are non-autonomous cars and autonomous cars on the road.” 

“There are transitional risks in introducing autonomous cars in traffic,” Gianotti said. These include privacy, consumer acceptance and security.

Regarding consumer acceptance, he noted that “drivers' distrust of the technology could slow the process of adopting the new technology.” Therefore, the technology should enter the market “reliably.” There is, therefore, “a need for harmonized protocols for communication and common platforms on the global level,” Gianotti said.

As for security, he admitted that no proposal has been put forward regarding IT security. “But the U.S. government is working on this.”

Protecting the Connected Car from Hackers

The U.S. government is not the only party tackling this crucial issue, which now is receiving the full attention it merits. Two presentations at the conclusion of the first day tackled the issue head-on and appeared to give a number of the participants a much-needed wake-up call.

In the first presentation, Nadav Safrir, cyber advisor at Argus Cyber Security, began by describing an audacious and meticulously planned hack of Target, North America's third-largest retailer, in which 70 million personal records and 40 million credit and debit cards were stolen. Then he noted that an estimated 152 million cars will be connected to the Internet by 2020.

While this presents “incredible opportunities, there are also possible scenarios of threats and hazards,” he said.

To illustrate his point, Safrir screened a brief video showing how he and his team hacked into his boss's Mazda cx3, prevented it from driving, and then sent a message shown on the car's display that read, “Pay us $5,000 to drive again.”

“This is just one car,” he said. “Think of a fleet of cars and then the Internet of cars and where this will lead us. Cyber has become super-lucrative for criminals.”

In addition cyber-hacking for profit, Safrir also cited the potential threat of cyber-terrorists or “a bug somewhere.”

“If these cars are all connected, it becomes even more frightening,” he warned.

His company produces an intrusion prevention system (IPS) that “works with the bits and bytes that flow into the critical components of a car,” he said.

In the ensuing panel discussion, his colleague Ofer Ben-Noon, co-founder and CEO of Argus Cyber Security, agreed that “preventing the hacker from reaching mission critical components,” such as the brake module, was of utmost importance.

Mike Bell, global connected car director at Jaguar Land Rover, described the situation bluntly. “Now that we've put connectivity in the car, anyone in the world can in theory reach the vehicle. The threat landscape has increased.”

He said “an in-depth strategy is required to protect the ecosystem around the car.”

Chuck Link, CTO at Verizon Telematics, said he found Safrir's illustration of an over-the-air car hijacking eye-opening and frightening. “To extract a ransom makes a lot of sense,” he said. “To extract ransom from an OEM, that would be an ugly situation. Can you imagine that all vehicles of a high-end manufacturer won't start one day? Imagine the OEM's reaction. It won't be pretty.”

Ben-Noon doubted that OEMs had the means to successfully deal with the issue on their own. “There are so many attack vectors that it's not possible to protect them all in-house,” he said.

He said safety was one reason it was vital to prevent hackers from reaching mission-critical components. Another was “to prevent the next cyber-recall” of vulnerable cars.

Stretching the Connectivity

Security will become ever more important as the connected car is connected not only to other cars, but to other devices. According to Simon Euringer, head of BMW's ConnectedDrive service, that is the next stage in the evolution of the technology: making available car-based services to consumers on other devices.

Euringer described three layers of car connectivity available to consumers. The first layer “is the sheer availability of features in the field,” such as real-time information on traffic, weather, parking availability and fuel prices.

The second layer is “the ability to customize the set of functions in the car, the ability to pick and choose the individual applications that we think are useful to us.” In that regard, he noted that BMW had recently launched an app store where consumers can purchase individual applications to personalize their in-car experience.

The third layer consists of “extracting functions from the vehicle to the Cloud and bringing those functions to the person wherever she or he is.” This will enable consumers to, among other things, “pre-condition the vehicle from the tablet that sits on the living-room floor.”

But, perhaps most important for the future of the connected car, it will enable a person to calculate, on her smartphone, tablet or watch, how long it takes to get from point A to point B. And this person might use her car or she might use public transport or a combination of the two.

“This is not navigation of the car, but of the person,” Euringer said. “This is an example of a function that is not only in the IVI system but is now available in the Cloud.”

Euringer used his personal smartphone and personal electric car to illustrate the function. Not only was he able to locate his car and its range, he was also able to calculate how long it would take him to walk to the nearest train station and, because the information on his smartphone included a real-time public transport schedule, how long it would take him to reach his car.

The Future of Mobility

An afternoon panel discussion, titled “The Meaning of Mobility towards 2020” demonstrated how this function could help manage traffic in mega-cities that will house, according to most estimates, about two-thirds of the world's population by 2030.

Echoing his BMW colleague Euringer, Ulrich Fastenrath, head of traffic and routing at BMW, said that it was vital, for future mobility, “to make functionality and services available to the person traveling from A to B.”

Fasstenrath went on to say that a major challenge for future mobility was data accuracy in regards to intermodal routing. “We have to work on the quality of data available,” he cautioned. “Quite generally, we have quality problems. If you want to travel the intermodal way, you need to know about such things as tube strikes and parking availability.”

One big challenge, he said, is to work with “uncertain data, data with limited precision. The way this is dealt with will act as a differentiator among brands and provide those who have solved it with a competitive advantage.” Fastenrath said BMW was already working on solutions to this issue, but he coyly declined to specify what avenues of research the company was pursuing.

The integration of real-time navigation data from private cars and public transport schedules will inevitably involve the cooperation of public authorities. “City and state governments have a lot of data in their hands, but it's not quality data,” he said. “We need to convince both sides, public and private, that they each gain from improved data. This is not easy. It needs a lot of cooperation.”

In this regard, Fastenrath said he saw the deployment of the autonomous car as a facilitating factor. “Autonomous driving forces us to achieve the level of integration and quality that we ant to have.”

Marije de Vreeze, manager ITS Netherlands at Connekt/ITS Netherlands, said the key to that cooperation was “sharing the same vision.” Her network functions as a mediator for cooperation between public and private parties.

Following this discussion, a participant at the presentation said he was surprised that there had been no mention of car-sharing in the discussion. This prompted the members of the panel to declare that their firms were all active in providing car-sharing solutions. De Vreeze noted that surveys had shown that the under-30 generation was substantially less interested in owning a car, which made car-sharing a reasonable and potentially profitable mobility alternative.

“If it's easier to share a car than to own a car, then more people will do car-sharing,” she said.

As if to underscore this statement, in an informal poll of conference participants, more than 43% of those who responded said that car-sharing would have the biggest impact on mobility by the year 2020, with the autonomous car finishing well behind, at 30.7%.

In another question, nearly two-thirds of poll participants cited traffic and navigation as the most important service in a car for customers, far ahead of infotainment, at 21.5%. This suggests that players in the connected-car space realize that, despite the popularity of such popular CE-derived services as music streaming and social media, the new technology has not changed the basic function of the car, which is to get people from point here to there in the most efficient possible way.

The Devil is in the Details

While the vision of the future of the connected car is grand, with autonomous driving and the paradigm shift it will inevitably bring, Jim Robnett, vice president of OEM Relationships at NNG, reminded conference participants that achieving it will depend on getting the details right. And this means getting consumers to like the experience.

“If you do the user experience right, the customers will pay you for your system,” he said.

But this is not currently the case. “Customers are struggling to use our systems,” he warned. “They can't even open their systems without calling someone.”

He maintained that consumers want systems that are easy to use, personalized and trustworthy. “And they don't trust them enough today,” he said.

Robnett charged that the industry is currently focusing on the wrong things. “We're selling technology and features when we should be selling the experience.”

He suggested that the correct way forward is to “add new voices to the process, to reach out to the people who use our products and get their feedback.”

He maintained that success of the technology depends making the consumer happy. “If we can fix the user experience, we can get there in terms of customer satisfaction.”

And that could help hasten the bright, glittering future everyone foresees for the connected car.

Siegfried Mortkowitz is a regular contributor to Telematics Update.

For the latest telematics trends, check out Connected Fleets USA on November 20-21 in Atlanta, USA, Consumer Telematics Show 2015 on January 5 in Las Vegas, Connected Fleets Europe 2015 on March 10-11 in Amsterdam, and Telematics Berlin 2015 on May 11-12 in Berlin.

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